Chilli farmers across Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are facing a crisis due to low market prices for their produce. Both the states have made a representation to the Centre, seeking assistance to bail out the farmers who are facing hardship due to lack of a fair price and increased production. In a letter to Union agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh, T Harish Rao, Telangana’s irrigation and marketing minister, has asked for funds to help the farmers.
During the current year, chilli production has increased 14%, which pushed down the spot prices by over 50%. “As the productivity has increased about 14%, it has resulted in an adverse impact on prices, which were dropping to `5,000-6,000 per quintal against `10,000 last year,” he said. The estimated production is over 6,98,353 MT this year in Telangana, causing a glut in the state. Rao requested the Centre to issue necessary orders to extend 50% central assistance to the Telangana state under Market Intervention Fund, which could help the chilly farmers get reasonable income. The fund infusion is expected to stabilise prices for the farmers.
While the middlemen continue to enjoy the profits, the retail market prices remain unchanged in both states. On a similar note, Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) president N Uttam Kumar Reddy has asked the state government to procure chillies immediately at a rate of `12,000 per quintal to bail out over one lakh farmers who were badly hit due to falling prices. “The affected farmers in Medicheruvu mandal of Suryapet district are in severe crisis due to low market prices for their produce,” he said.
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He said that the state government, through the department of agricultural economics, Agriculture University, had issued a forecast saying that the chilli price per quintal will be around `1,1000-11,400 at the time of harvesting in February-March 2017. This encouraged more than one lakh farmers to cultivate chilli instead of cotton. As against 70,000 acres of chilli cultivation last year, this year’s cultivation spread to nearly two lakh acres. The prices are now hovering around `5,000 per quintal, causing huge losses to the farmers.
About two days ago, chilli farmers had burnt their produce at Enumamula, Kothagudem and Khammam chilli market yards as a mark of protest for not getting good prices. Further, thousands of farmers are being put to hardship as market officials are refusing to buy chilli citing sufficient stock in cold storage.